There's nothing knee-jerk about my reaction at all.
As it happens I read that article 4 days ago and thought about it and I still find the idea ludicrous under ALL circumstances. The best players should have to prove they are the best by getting to the finals, same as everyone else. Otherwise it's just meaningless, totally inequality of effort. Whatever the solution to the calendar and scheduling concerns, giving the top players free passes to the finals is not the way to go, in my view, emphatically not.
Not even in a few tournaments? The benefits to everyone seem large (tour, lower ranked players, higher ranked players). The quality of the average match might even rise. If rafa played a few less matches early on, but was able to compete across the entire season, wouldn't most people (players,atp,fans) have been better off? It might also protect from injury players who do well at a young age, one of the points in the age trajectory where the grind of the tour seems to have a big impact (sometimes with long lasting consequences, as possibly with Safin).
You don't like it. But "Meaningless" is a strong word, certainly there is a lot of meaning for the majority of players. Do all the matches that the players play lose meaning just because the player they play in the final didn't go through the draw like everyone else? Yes there is some "inequality" of effort and in some cases this might impact that person's chances in the final vs. the well rested guy. But the structure of the tour now also causes some trouble for the top players. It's clear they are not in the same shape at the end of the year as a davydenko or a blake.
it's possible that even a 10 match per year lowering in the number of matches played all the way through a top player's career might increase the longevity of that player. Would you favor a system that lead federer or a nadal to play for a few more years or not? I would.
I wonder if you are in the majority or minority in your view.